Featured Fitale – Zelshanna Pardo

Find out how Zel dropped the excess weight to live her very best and healthy fit life. She shares her workouts, what she eats and what keeps her motivated.


Please introduce yourself to our readers (i.e. your name, occupation, hobbies, etc.).

Hello, my name is Zelshanna, but I prefer Zel. I am a Customer Service Professional for a Corporation that I would prefer not to name.

I enjoy hanging out with my family that consists of my son Caiden, My Fiancée’ Laura, my sister and two nephews as well as additional friends that are just like family.

What sparked your weight-loss transformation journey?

I decided I needed to make a change because I needed to be healthier not just for myself, but mainly for my son. I did not want to be that mom sitting on the sidelines watching her son be active, I wanted to be active with him. I wanted my knees to stop crackling when I walked.

I wanted to be able to climb a flight of stairs and not be out of breath. I wanted more, simply put. I was working at Lane Bryant and a customer came in ready to shop because she was celebrating her 100lb weight loss.

I asked her how she did it and she said she had bariatric surgery.  Honestly, I had no idea what that was. I asked her some questions and she provided me with the information from her provider.

I went online that same night, watched the webinar, scheduled a consult and it was straight into first gear after that. On Feb 04, 2016 I had the vertical sleeve gastrectomy.

What was your beginning and current weight or measurements?

I did not take measurements at any point in my journey and that is beginning to current. I started my weight loss journey at 400 lbs and I weigh around 210 lbs to date.

How long did it take for your weight-loss transformation from beginning to end?

I had weight loss surgery Feb 04, 2016 so in 2 years and 10 months I have lost roughly 190lbs. It has not been easy.  So many people assume that weight loss surgery is the “easy way out” but it is not.

It is a tool just like meal replacements, calorie restriction, portion control, etc. There have been times where I have plateaued for months.

That was a discouraging time, but I made sure I did not let stop me from reaching my goal(s). I remained true to myself and stayed consistent and eventually the weight started come off again.

Which physical activities did you participate in during your journey?

To be honest, I did not participate in a lot of fitness activities. I mean I would walk here and there, but nothing too strenuous.

I have not been in a gym since before I had surgery, not that that works for everyone, but it works for me. I make sure that eating habits remain consistent especially this far into my journey because this is the time where a lot of weight loss surgery patients start to experience regain.

How did your eating habits change?

My eating habits change drastically of course because I had weight loss surgery. The first three weeks after weight loss surgery I was only able to consume liquids.

That was hard.

My grandmother always told me “You don’t miss your water ‘til your well runs dry” and that stayed with me throughout my life. I took something as simple as chewing for granted. It got to the point where I was upset at the people around me for being able to eat.

I reached out to some other weight loss surgery peers and they all said “You will eat again” at the time I was like, yeah right, lol, but it’s true.

To date my family is Keto and that is what works for us. We have been able to find/create healthier options to foods we love, even fried chicken and pastas!!

What do you typically eat for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner?

When it comes to eating I have to be careful because I don’t get hungry often so I have to make myself eat. A typical eating day in the life of Zel would be:

Breakfast: Two Keto frittatas

Snack: Cubed Colby jack cheese or a mozzarella cheese stick paired with habanero almonds

Lunch: Shredded chicken with cheese or half a sandwich

Snack: (If needed) Beef jerky or tuna and cheese

What is your favorite fitness activity?

My favorite fitness activity is rocking out to Cardi B’s whole album and chasing my son and nephews around.

What do you do now to maintain your physique?

I don’t know if I would say I have a physique ha-ha, but I’m not currently in maintenance mode. I am still trying to lose an additional 10-20 lbs because my surgeon wants me to get down to 190 lbs.

I will see how I feel at that weight and decide whether I am happy and that weight and go into maintenance mode or regain to a weight that I am comfortable.

How did you develop and sustain the willpower to avoid the bad stuff (i.e. junk food, bad drinks, lack of activity, etc.)?

I don’t really avoid junk food, sweets, bad drinks because I never liked them, not even when I was heavier. My faux paus were carbs- bread, pasta, and rice – all the good stuff you aren’t supposed to have.

I learned that when you tell yourself you can’t have something it makes you want it that much more. It’s not about limiting yourself, but about making a lifestyle change that is manageable for YOU.

Do not compare your journey to anyone else’s because no two walks are going to be parallel. Make the decision to make a change, understand there will be bad days, but don’t get stuck.

Take the day, say it is what it is, and move on. Stay consistent. You didn’t gain the weight in one day and you are not going to lose it in one day.

What advice do you have for someone looking to get started with their fitness journey but not sure where to begin?

For anyone that is looking to start a fitness journey, just start. First start with what you like. Think about your like and what you can maintain.

Recognize it is a lifestyle change and something that you are going to be invested in long term. Whether that be shakes like Herbalife, Keto, Paleo, portion control.

If you can’t manage it, you won’t stick to it. Research your body type and work foods work best, the types of activities that work best.

Straight up, you do not have to kill yourself in the gym for hours to lose weight. Be active for 30 mins a day.

Take a brisk jog, dance, yoga, get that heart rate going and make sure it’s fun. Again, if you don’t enjoy it you’re not going to do it.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about this journey?

I have found that the biggest misconception about a weight loss journey is that when you hit that magic number on the scale all will be well in the world. It’s not.

If you don’t genuinely love yourself, you will never truly be happy no matter what the scale says. You should love yourself at any size.

Yes, does losing weight, feeling better in clothes, getting compliments make you feel better, of course they do. But there are still going to be bad days.

Mental Health and Mental Health Awareness are very serious. Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons which are to be healthy.

Not to look good just physically, but to be emotionally, mentally, and spiritually sound.

Do you have any fitness inspirations?  Who are they?

I do have a few fitness inspirations. They are @nurse_ambuh @CookieMiller @Modelyabs24 @phenomenal.vsg.woman and @glamourouswallflower just to name a few.

How can readers learn more about your transformation and journey online (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)?

If readers would like to learn more about me and my transformation I can be contacted via IG. My handle is @pardonmyvsg

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